Huainan is one of those places that it would be hard to ask a bus driver to stop in, given that awkward combination of vowels. The first place of interest there is Bagong mountain, which plays host to a smattering of not-very exciting sites. It’s also another one of those places in China where all the photos are of the entrance gate – apart from the smashing one we’ve used to illustrate this article with. Nice enough at the right time of year, but not worth really going out of your way for.
There’s also Shangyao National Forest Park which unsurprisingly is a load of trees, nice trees, even pretty trees – but a load of trees nonetheless. There’s also supposed to be a really ancient temple there too but I couldn’t find out a darn thing about it. So we head on to Huangshan, which is why most people visit Anhui in the first place.
First up Huangshan never really gets cold so it might make for an interesting break from Northern China in the Winter. Being a tourist city there’s a load of touristy stuff here and there are dozens of “traditional handicrafts” (some of those dating back until last Tuesday) to part you from your wallet. It’s also considered to be the home of stinky tofu by some, so hold your breath before passing the street vendors.
Take a walk down Tunxi street because it’s really and genuinely old, and and it’s quite nice to look at too – a rarity in Chinese cities. Head to the Tunxi museum if you have an urge to know more about furniture in the Ming and Qing periods. Or head to Wancuilou instead, which is a private museum, because it boasts the largest inkstone in the world (for Chinese writing) and it’s nearly 12.5 tonnes!
Pop out of the city and check out the two heritage villages of Xidi and Hongcun that are genuinely gorgeous, and full of all sorts of cool stuff and don’t take my word for it – UNESCO said so too on the millennium.
I’m not so struck by the Tangyue Memorial Archways though, which are some pretty old umm… wooden arches. Despite their “touching stories” I’d find myself as bored as I was after 3 minutes walking round Stonehenge (which might be an impressive collection of rocks – but is still a big old pile of rocks when you get down to it).
Actually Huangshan looks pretty good – the only thing that puts me off visiting is the sound knowledge that it is one of the big numbers on the local tourist trail and that means sharing its delights with millions of others all at the same time…